“These are not the
playoffs,” remarked Paul Fixter after the Hershey Bears loss to the
Philadelphia Phantoms in their home and home series, but it sure felt like
it. Charlie Stephens, a 22-year-old second year center, was sidelined
during his second game back after a brief stint with the Colorado Avalanche
that included two assists and four penalty minutes. Jordan Krestanovich, a
22-year-old swift left winger (COL) who struggles with consistency and throwing
weight around the boards, also felt the heat of the moment. The rules of the
game are simple for the Hershey Bears: effort is rewarded and dues are paid. For Paul Fixter,
“I make decisions with information and with thought. In the end, I go with my
Following these rules might be hard at times
especially after three consecutive losses against the Philadelphia Phantoms,
but the players are prepared to deal with the unexpected. Especially Peter Budaj, a Hershey Bears goalie and 21-year-old Colorado
Avalanche prospect who attempts to grow into a more competitive role despite
two losses against the Philadelphia Phantoms.
On November 8th, Budaj was stunned during the third
period as Phantom Kirby Law
attempted to defy his save. He stared
at the video board as referee Harry Dumas made the decision on a goal that was
disallowed. “I had it practically
down…the high shot…I moved my shoulders…(puck) hit the crossbar and my elbow,”
said Budaj explaining his saving techniques in the dressing room.
Budaj was proven right, despite Law who gave much to talk about in this
series earning three assists and four goals against the Hershey Bears. To Law, his disallowed goal “was one of those things where the ref
thought it was in, but one of the linesmen said it was a high stick.” It was just more controversy for Budaj who
makes the effort despite being “bowled over” according to Paul Fixter. Luckily for Budaj, the Hershey Bears earned
him a spare with one point in their overtime bowling loss. Budaj believes that his practices
with Craig Billington, Colorado Avalanche’s specialist in goalkeeper
development, are paying off. The plays
are certainly amazing sometimes outsmarting the opposition pounding on the goal
in a spectacular attempt. According to
Paul Fixter: “Peter might have been the
best player on the ice. He was outstanding. He made some great saves…He
To the surprise of many, center Ryan Craig, Tampa Bay Lightning’s 21-
year-old 2002 eight round selection just recalled from the ECHL, gained respect
from the veterans by showing outstanding hockey sense on the ice. He earned the third star of the game by
scoring a goal from his Tampa Bay colleagues Shane Willis and Eric Perrin
during the November 8th showdown against the Phantoms. The ex-Brandon Wheat King seems to have
reached the AHL level making the transition in his level of play after a brief
stint with the Pensacola Ice Pilots. In
many ways, his persistent style is similar to that of Detroit Red Wing Brendan
Shanahan, a player he emulates and admires.
According to the Tampa Bay Lightning scouting team, Craig is not flashy
and he really doesn’t have any true outstanding skills but at the end he gets
the job done. His special outstanding
qualities are priceless and intangible.
Ryan Craig is a leader and a producer.
Even GM Jay Feaster has mentioned many times that Craig is a contender
for team captain if the prospect of a sole franchise AHL affiliate arises.